Vodka and cranberry were a famous duo in the 1990s. And this legendary combination also builds the base of the Sea Breeze cocktail.
A tremendous marketing effort from Ocean Spray and Absolut Vodka made this cocktail one of the most popular drinks of the decade. But the cocktail was around for a lot longer before its peak in popularity.
Besides Vodka and cranberry, the third ingredient of the Sea Breeze cocktail is fresh grapefruit juice. So the drink follows one of the old cocktail recipe principles:
Mix strong (spirit) with weak (juice) and sweet and sour.
Due to the simplicity of the Sea Breeze recipe, the drink is often built-in glass instead of shaken on ice.
Ingredients of the Sea Breeze cocktail
Traditionally the Sea Breeze is made with Ocean Spray cranberry juice, Absolut Vodka, and freshly squeezed grapefruit juice. And if you like fruity, light drinks, there's honestly no need to tweak the original recipe.
The Vodka choice here is a pretty easy one. Absolut may not have been in the original drink, but it sure is the default choice since they took part in marketing the Sea Breeze.
-Yet, Absolut could as well have been in the original drink since the Swedish Vodka brand has been around since the late 1800s.
Either way, Absolut works perfectly in mixed drinks and can be used in many of our favorite Vodka cocktails.
The Sea Breeze is a light, low-ABV cocktail. Plus, grapefruit and cranberry juices do mask the alcoholic bite from its base spirit almost entirely. That also makes it dangerously easy to drink.
Usually, freshly squeezed fruit juice is the way to go for craft cocktails. And for the grapefruit juice, this remains valid for the flashy 90s drink. Citrus juice, in general, should be freshly squeezed in mixed drinks.
However, unless you feel overly fancy, I do not recommend putting in that effort for the cranberry juice. Instead, buy an organic bottled one made from actual cranberries.
History of the Sea Breeze cocktail
As ever so often, it is a bit unclear when the Sea Breeze was invented. Researching the roots of the drink, you will find many different decades as possible origins.
Sea Breeze in the Savoy Cocktail Book
Some state the 1980s, while others claim the cocktail is from the 60s. And then you can also find a "Sea Breeze Cooler" in Harry Craddocks Savoy Cocktail Book, which got published in the 1930s.
So it seems most likely that the Sea Breeze Cocktail got created around the end of the prohibition era.
The recipe for Sea Breeze Cooler Craddock published in his book is very different from today's recipe. A mix of Gin, Apricot Brandy, lemon juice, and two dashes of grenadine.
Considering his Sea Breeze Cooler also gets topped up with soda water, this cooler seems to be an entirely different drink. Nevertheless, many insist that this was the base for the modern Sea Breeze.
The modern Sea Breeze
Quite possibly, the change in the recipe is also related to clever marketing by Ocean Spray.
In order to promote their cranberry juice in the 1960s, they created booklets including food and drink recipes. One of those recipes was named Sea Breeze and obviously asked for cranberry juice.
Ocean Spray's cranberry juice was also a key ingredient in another 90s classic, the Cosmopolitan.
Eventually, when Absolut started to co-promote the drink in the 1990s, the Sea Breeze was everywhere.
It had everything a drink needed to be successful at that time. It was boozy but still easy to drink, quite sweet, and a bit sour with a bright color.
And even today, the Sea Breeze is a well-liked summer cocktail. Because it still is refreshing, sweet and sour, and just so easy to make.
- 1.5 oz Vodka
- 2.5 oz Cranberry juice
- 1 oz Grapefruit juice
- Add all ingredients to a Highball or Collins glass filled with ice.1.5 oz Vodka, 2.5 oz Cranberry juice, 1 oz Grapefruit juice
- Gently stir all ingredients and garnish the cocktail with a lime wheel.